Norman Winarsky Ph. D

Past President SRI Ventures. Entrepreneur, Angel investor, Author and Speaker.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 30, 2015

Discussion

Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
Hey friends, it's Norman Winarsky here. I am a co-Author with Henry Kressel of "If You Really Want to Change the World: A Guide to Creating, Building, and Sustaining Breakthrough Ventures," published by Harvard Business Review Press. I’ve been the originator and leader of SRI International’s venture strategy and process, and personally helped found over 30 ventures, including Siri, which was spun out of SRI and acquired by Apple in April 2010. It’s great to talk with all of you today. We wrote this book for readers like you joining me today - readers that want to create, build, and sustain truly great ventures – ventures that can touch the lives of millions of people, and not only create wealth, but substantially improve the way that people live and work.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's something you used to fundamentally believe that you now see as misguided?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@eriktorenberg What I most disagree with - is the culture of "failure" that has become so central to current entrepreneurs thinking
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · BI @ Meerkat & Maker of Things
@normanwinarsky what do you think of the personality Apple has put on top of Siri? Do you enjoy the easter eggs they've been adding (star wars, secrets, etc...)?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@jsneedles I think it's great - the next generation of VPAs will be able to understand and express emotion
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
It seems like voice commands might be one of the next major breakthroughs in how individuals interact with their phone and technology. Why do you think it hasn't become ubiquitous yet and when do you think it will?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@alexcartaz Voice commands - or more generally natural language understanding - can fail badly unless there is context, learning, and actual understanding. This field is just starting - with Siri the first in the hands of millions of people
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What type of companies do you look for when investing? Can you share a little bit about your strategy as an Angel?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@ems_hodge I look for companies to invest in which have the four crucial elements: large market with a real pain point, great team, disruptive technology or business solution, and a great value proposition.
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
What I most disagree with - is the culture of "failure" that has become so central to current entrepreneurs thinking
StartupBros@startupbros · StartupBros.com
@normanwinarsky Does this also mean you're sick of people obsessing over lean/action-oriented management?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@startupbros @normanwinarsky It's true. Lean, action oriented management is generally like starting a project to be a venture, instead of actually being one. It's very dangerous.
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
Does anyone have more questions?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
Thanks for your great questions. It's been great to talk with you. Signing off now.
JJ@outdreamer · Web Developer/Writer/Idea-generator
@normanwinarsky What's your take on the lifespan of a company? Some recent startups are based on technology that I'm sure will be surpassed in 10 years - what's the best way to invest when tech advancements can render a company valueless with the right competition? What qualities other than adaptation, persistence, and balance are most important when pitching an idea & running a business? Have you ever invested in a company when other people doubted its value, & it paid off? If so, what were the thought processes & impressions involved in that decision? What's a good way for me to pitch my app ideas to people outside of Twitter & other social media, not in the interest of profit, but rather in enabling other people to profit from my ideas? What do you think of a global solutions platform reminiscent of the White House petition system to use crowd-sourcing to identify global problems, suggest solutions, & vote on solutions?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@outdreamer when pitching to a VC - there are three things you need to accomplish: (1) You have a great vision - and value proposition; (2) You are passionate about the vision, willing to work whatever it takes to accomplish it; and (3) that you have the skill to execute it
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
When you launched Siri, did you ever envisage it would become such a widely used and know aspect of so many people's smartphones now?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@ems_hodge when we launched Siri, we envisaged wide usage for sure, but we were only considering Siri to start in travel and entertainment, not to be so broadly used
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What are your thoughts on AI?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@ems_hodge and where do you disagree with other prominent thinkers in the space?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@ems_hodge AI is just in its infancy. Natural language understanding, computer vision, machine learning are only just beginning.
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@ems_hodge emily, can you call me please?
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · Writer/Social Editor @ProductHunt
@normanwinarsky happy to help if still needed? niv@producthunt.com
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
@normanwinarsky Hi Norman, who's the most impressive person you have worked with, and what's the most important lesson you learned from them?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@daniellenewnham are you able to see my answers - or are we having technical difficulties?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@daniellenewnham Hi Danielle - the most impressive people I've worked with are the world-leading technologists - one of whom is a director here, Pat Lincoln. The lesson - the great people are not only great, they're humble
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
What is the most pressing issue you think our world will face in the next century? If you could build or support any one venture that you think would help eradicate/reverse that pressing issue, what would it be?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@melissajoykong I think the most pressing issue the world will face is global climate change. If I could build one venture, it would be to retrieve carbon from the atmosphere
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
This is Norman Winarsky here. Good to talk with you.
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
The question on the lifespan of a company is a good one. Companies that are based on technology alone aren't going to succeed except in rare cases - technology is only valuable if its a solution to a market problem
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
Are you able to see my answers?
StartupBros@startupbros · StartupBros.com
@normanwinarsky We see this one :)
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
@normanwinarsky would you have any advice for recent graduates who hope to one day make the leap to a VC? Even if that means starting off at a VC firm as an intern, what would you recommend?
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
@haidersyed If you're a recent graduate, the best thing to do would be to have real operational experience in a startup. Successes will then attract the VCs to want you
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
@normanwinarsky thanks for the response!
Norman Winarsky@normanwinarsky · Lecturer, Stanford University
I'm very interested in all your thoughts as to what you think will be the next breakthrough areas - markets or technologies.